Comments Back: Moderation is Key

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moderation-is-key.american-apparel-unisex-fitted-tee.lemon.w760h760.jpgOK. The comments are coming back — but they will be moderated.
I’ve noticed that some folks who comment think that there is this enormous operation behind The Washington Note that can screen people, block some, and let others through — and generally ascribe to a single individual’s world view in giving a thumbs up or thumbs down to others. This is not the case.
I have always been clear to some of the most active commenters here — including Nadine, POA, WigWag, Paul Norheim, questions, Carroll, and others — that I enjoy the debate and have learned something from every one of them. But the ease with which some regularly fell into attacks of innuendo and incredibly misinformed assaults on others can’t be tolerated here. I get email from some of you incredibly certain that Nadine is an agent paid to harrass folks on the blog, or that POA is some sort of well, I won’t go there. The fact is that Nadine is a very decent, smart person with passionate views. I know who she is and know who POA and many others are. But that doesn’t excuse for a moment the level of animosity and rage you vent at each other — and occasionally me — in completely intolerable and inexcusable doses.
I’ve tried over the last many years to cultivate civil debate here, dissent from my own views, and some very high profile commenters have indeed developed here — some constructive, and some apparently unable to curb tendencies to attack others on any number of fronts. I won’t have it and simply won’t debate the rules with folks.
Everyone is welcome back. Comments appearing here will be permitted through entirely based on their constructive contribution to discussion — or their ability to provide resources for others — or their lightheartedness or passion or anger constructively written.
This is my blog. My rules. Civility is required. Agreement is not.
So, we are going to try to get a regime in place that moderates all comments as they go up. I imagine that this process is going to be spotty at the beginning and ask your patience. We will try to improve as things move along.
Thanks much for understanding. I like the T-Shirt noted above. If you want to buy one, here is the link.
Best regards to all.
— Steve Clemons

Comments

33 comments on “Comments Back: Moderation is Key

  1. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “Anyone know more?”
    The Jessica Lynch fairy tale and the Tillman skit might not give us fodder for “knowledge” about what actually happened to Logan, but it certainly gives us food for thought about what they want us to believe happened to her, and, more importantly; by whose heathen hands.
    BOO!!!!

    Reply

  2. Cee says:

    Lara Logan wasn’t raped. I wondered if it was true when I read first read it.
    Anyone know more?

    Reply

  3. WigWag says:

    Interestingly, Rosen has spent the last several hours furiously removing tweets from his Twitter Feed. Unfortunately for him, before it occurred to him he’d better do this, a variety of groups who dislike him, took screenshots to preserve everything he said.
    It looks like it wasn’t just the comments he made about the sexual assault against Lara Logan that were objectionable.
    Here are some other tweets that, at best, are in poor taste.
    “hope Christopher Hitchens is full of shame for this shitty article on Tunisia”: http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/features/2007/07/hitchens200707 5:03 PM Jan 14th via web
    “idiotic Catholic church just made John Paul a saint for magically curing a woman from Parkinsons’. What fucking century am I living in?”
    2:58 PM Jan 14th via web
    On December 15 there was this,
    “just saw footage of Greek rioters beating a former minister. Now there’s accountability. I wish we had some of that.”
    Then there’s this one from December 3, 2010 which he has now removed and is particularly disturbing,
    “On Hannuka, Just think, if only the Greeks had been better at counterinsurgency we wouldn’t have these problems today. Where was Petraeus?”
    Chanukah celebrates the victory of the early second century (BCE) Jews led by the Maccabean Generals against the Hellenizers who had, in their view defiled their Temple. By wishing that the Greeks “had been better at counterinsurgency” what Rosen is wishing for it that the Greeks had been victorious and the revolt a failure. Had this occurred, the Jews would have been wiped out and it is highly likely that there would be no Jews left in the world today.
    It seems to me that it is the plain meaning of Rosen’s tweet that he wishes the Jewish people had been extinguished.
    Even if one can conjure up a somewhat more benign explanation, his remark,
    “if only the Greeks had been better at counterinsurgency we wouldn’t have these problems today”
    is highly reminiscent of the remark that Trent Lott made some years ago at the birthday party of Strom Thurmond. Specifically Lott said,
    “When Strom Thurmond ran for president, we voted for him. We

    Reply

  4. WigWag says:

    Nir Rosen spent a considerable amount of time as a fellow at the New America Foundation before moving on to other things. He applied for a job at the International Crisis Group but was turned down. Eventually he landed a position as a fellow at the New York University Center on Law and Security. It is unclear whether Rosen was fired from that position today or whether he voluntarily stepped down.
    Here is the statement on Rosen’s termination from
    Karen J. Greenberg, Executive Director of the NYU Center on Law and Security,
    “Nir Rosen is always provocative, but he crossed the line yesterday with his comments about Lara Logan. I am deeply distressed by what he wrote about Ms. Logan and strongly denounce his comments. They were cruel and insensitive and completely unacceptable. Mr. Rosen tells me that he misunderstood the severity of the attack on her in Cairo. He has apologized, withdrawn his remarks, and submitted his resignation as a fellow, which I have accepted. However, this in no way compensates for the harm his comments have inflicted. We are all horrified by what happened to Ms. Logan, and our thoughts are with her during this difficult time.”

    Reply

  5. WigWag says:

    In fairness to Nir Rosen, he has now tweeted a more heartfelt and decent apology.
    Here is the feed from Rosen’s Twitter account for the past 15 hours:
    “I feel I should make one last statement. I offer my deepest apologies to Ms. Logan, her friends and her family. I never meant to hurt anyone.”
    “There is no point following me, i am done tweeting. too ashamed of how i have hurt others and the false impression i gave of who i am.”
    “To the 500 people new twitter followers and the old ones. I did not mean it and i apologize again. it was an inappropriate unacceptable joke.”
    “On the job you get used to making jokes about our own death, other people’s deaths, horrors, you forget that you sound like a dick at home.”
    “As someone who’s devoted his career to defending victims and supporting justice, I’m very ashamed for my insensitive and offensive comments.”
    “I apologize and take it back. joking with friends got out of line when i didnt want to back down. forgot twitter is not exactly private.”
    “I hope people remember her role glorifying war and condemning rolling stone’s hastings while defending mcchrystal.”
    “ah fuck it, i apologize for being insensitive, its always wrong, thats obvious, but i’m rolling my eyes at all the attention she will get.”
    Rosen has always reminded me of John Reed; not quite a journalist, not quite a polemicist but a hybrid of the two. Anyone who hasn’t read “Ten Days that Shock the World” is missing something.
    But Reed treated women horribly as many leftists of his generation (and subsequent generations) did. What made this even more ironic is that Reed was married for a time to Louise Bryant who was an early feminist. Reed also disparaged homosexuals and he spoke insultingly of Oscar Wilde who he considered a dilettante. In fairness, Reed lived in a generation before feminism and gay rights took hold; Rosen can’t make the same claim.
    Personally I think Rosen’s apology should be accepted. His most recent twittered mea culpas, as opposed to his earlier ones, seem pretty heartfelt to me. But when Peretz made his remarks, many commentators called on Harvard to revoke an awards ceremony that they were giving him to commemorate a fellowship given to the school in Peretz’s name. I don’t recall whether Steve Clemons joined in this suggestion when commenting on the subject at the Washington Note.
    I do wonder what sanction those who criticized Peretz’s comment think is appropriate for Rosen.
    Everyone can learn a lesson from Rosen

    Reply

  6. Steve Clemons says:

    Paul Norheim, no problem. I will consider relaxing at the right time. But I had to do something to end the abuses going on here and had few options available. This is about building a mutual supportive, mutually respectful culture of debate. In one day, that has already happened. The tone of every note posted has changed. I haven’t received one comment at all that I haven’t published. Says something right there.
    All best, steve clemons

    Reply

  7. WigWag says:

    I’m glad Steve is moderating the comment section but it looks like he’s going to have to be more careful about the people he invites to do guest posts as well.
    A frequent guest poster at the Washington Note, Nir Rosen, has been caught tweeting insulting comments about CBS correspondent Lara Logan after Ms Logan was sexually assaulted by a mob in Cairo last week. She had to be rescued by several women and soldiers after she was surrounded by a mob of more than a hundred men. She was hurt badly enough that she had to leave Cairo; upon returning to the United States those injuries required her to be admitted to a California hospital.
    What did the voluble Nir Rosen have to say about the incident?
    He suggested that she was trying to outdo Anderson Cooper who had been assaulted previously.
    Here’s Rosen’s precise tweet,

    Reply

  8. questions says:

    On explanations, Michael Lind’s piece up at Salon/WarRoom, and Bill O’Reilly’s smash internet hit, “The tide goes in, the tide goes out, never a miscommunication.”
    Lind suggests that the left ought to do more than merely sneer at the crazy right in supercilious, educated at the college or graduate level superiority. He’s right. The left has O’Reilly’s meme totally wrong. So here’s a stab at the tides, Descartes, elephants all the way down, explanations of events, and how the left and the right are really stuck with the same basic epistemic limitations.
    What O’Reilly is really getting at with his musing about the tides is a simplified version of the argument from design coupled with blind and dumb criticism. And O’Reilly is actually, at some level, more correct than the incomprehending atheists and “leftists” who take him on.
    The underlying questions of course are why there is something rather than nothing and how complexity of events could arise given that there is something rather than nothing.
    For O’Reilly, the only answer is that there is a Creator who makes up shit, and a creator who makes all that shit really complex. A lot of people have this sensibility, even Descartes, and even whoever it is who came up with the elephants all the way down line.
    Regarding elephants, the question is what does the world rest upon. The answer is an elephant. The next question is what does that elephant rest upon, and the answer of course is another elephant. And with enough repetition, the final answer is, “Oh, it’s elephants all the way down.”
    Even if we give the answer “God” for pretty much everything, we still haven’t answered the really final question about why there is something rather than nothing, and how complexity gets here. We just say, “It’s gods all the way down.” That’s one theological response.
    Regarding Descartes, he notes that “It is not without rashness that I would inquire into the purposes of God” meaning that if I were to try to understand what God is doing, I’d be suggesting that I am, in fact, God, a pretty rash thing for even a theologian to claim.
    In the face of these limitations on our understanding of what is really going on, O’Reilly concludes first that “there’s never a miscommunication” and second that there simply have to be gods or elephants all the way down.
    The problem is that the atheist can do no better than O’Reilly on the issues. From the atheist, we get rational, evidence-based answers that rest on universal gravitation, the Big Bang Theory, quantum mechanics, string theory, chaos theory, and the like.
    Each of the “left’s” explanatory schemes is fairly complex, each gives a mechanistic explanation for how there is something rather than nothing and how simple systems can evolve complexity. But the atheist never really answers WHY there is something rather than nothing. It’s quantum mechanics all the way down.
    So whether or not we rest on “never a miscommunication” or “elephants all the way down” or “quantum mechanics all the way down” we’re still pretty much locked up in Descartes’ basic insight that trying to speak about God’s purposes is on the rash side.
    We don’t really know “purpose” in any large sense, and when we try to legislate our individual sense of purpose and force others to enact our version, we do indeed act with rashness. And corruption. And cruelty.
    The “left” would be better off not sneering at O’Reilly’s insight, the “right” would be better off not sneering at the left’s physicalist reads. They both need to see that ultimately, we’re all stuck with “elephants all the way down”. Probably we need some comfort with epistemic limits; after all, the limits are for real.
    We are limited in our ability to explain both the largest and smallest questions. Why is there something rather than nothing? Why did Egypt have a revolution and China didn’t?
    We can gain some weak footholds here, but the largest and smallest answers are still going to have some amount of elephants all the way down. Structuralism, historical specificity, generalized historical or sociological or great-man explanations will all still rest on many elephants.

    Reply

  9. Paul Norheim says:

    Ok Steve, jokes aside – I would like to offer a more serious
    comment on the regrettable, but highly understandable
    implementation of moderated comments at TWN.
    In the last three weeks or so, we’ve witnessed some dramatic
    and significant events in the Middle East, that may or may not
    lead to world historic changes. It took a while before you
    commented on what happened in Tunisia, and then in Egypt.
    You were busy – at a later stage frequently commenting in the
    media, and also advising the White House.
    When things got serious in Egypt, some of the not-so –
    influential people commenting here – among them DonS, Dan
    Kervick, Questions, Carroll and myself, but also many others –
    watched these events closely and commented frequently, on
    threads related or not related to the events. We grabbed the
    threads that were available, provided links and info, posed
    questions, analyzed, and tried to make sense of the rapidly
    unfolding events.
    The remarkable fact is that during those discussions, there
    were almost no assaults on fellow commenters; almost zero
    animosity or rage or ad hominem insults at all on these
    threads. We often disagreed, sometimes strongly, but in good
    spirit, never descending into the personal fights so common
    here.
    Then you wrote, eventually, a post or two about the possible
    impact on the Israel-Palestine issue…and the atmosphere
    immediately changed, resulting in the familiar hail of insults
    and rage…
    I know I’m not the only one who enjoyed this calm atmosphere
    here while discussing possibly world shaking events (ask DonS
    and Questions! Perhaps Dan Kervick and Carroll as well?); and I
    really really really hope that this was not the last time we had
    the opportunity to do so in a more immediate and rapid flow if
    this drama continues.
    My basic, but important point is that as long as Israel is not
    directly referred to. we may be able to discuss some serious
    events as they unfold in a calm and reasonable manner.
    I would therefor make a modest request: If dramatic events
    occur in other ME countries in the coming weeks or months,
    please consider relaxing the moderation while the drama
    unfolds, because the dynamics consisting of rapid comments
    and dialogues are invaluable during such historic events.
    I hope you’ll give it a thought when you’ve established the
    moderation regime.

    Reply

  10. questions says:

    On why Mubarak fell, It’s the economy, stupid, edition:
    http://www.salon.com/news/politics/war_room/2011/02/15/why_mubarak_fell/index.html
    Really interesting read of why Egypt didn’t crack down, but China did.
    A little snarky on the “Obama blew it” meme….
    The military’s hand in every economic pie in Egypt may make Egypt a little more atypical than other countries. And the level of across the board, multi-class participation seems to be pretty important.
    *******
    And from nakedcapitalism, an interesting read of the Frannie proposals — they don’t seem to like the three proposals very much, and they note that 30 year fixed rate mortgages maybe should go the way of the dinosaurs as we don’t really live in the same place for 30 years, we cannot plan incomes far into the future, and all of the interest rate risk ends up with the lender and none with the buyer in these kinds of mortgages. No pre-payment penalties, guaranteed interest rates for 30 years….. High property prices harm affordability, but are supported by 30 year fixed rate mortgages. Of course, whoever is caught in the period of transformation is going to be hurt.
    Oh, and by the way, Frannie had so little to do with the meltdown in the first place that starting and stopping reform at their door isn’t going to cure what ails us.
    Worth the read.
    http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2011/02/15844.html

    Reply

  11. dianaw says:

    Steve: As you know, I’m a loyal reader. I find
    it incredible that you have to devote attention to
    this. I realize that people have strong opinions,
    but there is no excuse for the kind of abuse you
    refer to. No matter what the opinion is, it gets
    lost utterly if the writer resorts to invective,
    anger, epithets, etc. etc. That’s only noise,
    with no information. You have one of the most
    impartial sites I know. The reason I know this is
    that I disagree with you sometimes. That means
    you’re doing your job, and not parroting the
    things I want to believe. MOST IMPORTANTLY:
    There is no right or wrong here. You could be
    right, I could be right, or the opposite. 99.999
    percent of the time, the truth will be somewhere
    in between. The point is to discuss and to gain
    enlightenment. Not to score points or declare
    victory. Anything besides moderation just wastes
    everyone’s time and doesn’t contribute anything.
    I’ll keep reading.
    Diana W

    Reply

  12. Paul Norheim says:

    While Don Bacon lamented the loss of a TWN art form – “the
    world-class verbal assaults” – allow me to lament the personal
    loss of the excellent TWN FREE INTERACTIVE ENGLISH
    LANGUAGE COURSE:
    1) Instant and passionate dialogues on a wide range of
    subjects!!!
    2) Improve your grammar and learn to master a variety of
    styles via interactive dialogues with anyone from Steve
    “Franchise” Clemons to PissedOffAmerican and WigWag!!!
    3) Enrich your vocabulary by participating 24/7 in discussing
    everything from “the finer points of 3000 years of Jewish
    history” via “the mystique of America’s superpower status” to
    the eternal spectacle in those regions where “the sun don’t
    shine”!!!
    With those spontaneous dialogues more or less gone, I guess
    the challenge now is more like: Write a highbrow geopolitical
    essay that could have been published in “Foreign Affairs”?
    Lament over. I understand why Steve had to do this.

    Reply

  13. questions says:

    Critique of the foreclosure article from above — “critique” is too nice a term, actually. h/t Rortybomb for this one, too.
    http://realestateresearch.frbatlanta.org/rer/2011/02/new-study-foreclosure-house-prices.html
    Regarding the success of revolutions, it would seem that there are several undercurrents to puzzle through.
    First, what causes any particular revolution? If the economy is in disastrous shape and is so spoiled that things don’t really get better, one can see a longing for the old, seemingly more stable system
    If what causes the revolution is a generational change in preferences, then the disappearance of the older generation might be sufficient.
    If what causes the revolution is structural/resource-oriented economic problems (a poor country that is so out of lack of resources rather than because of kleptocracy), then it would seem that revolution can’t really cure what ails.
    It is likely then that a more complete reading of revolutions requires some microanalysis of the economic problems.
    Regarding returning dictator families over generations, it might be nice to know if the children or grandchildren have fantasies of compensation for the family evils or fantasies of regaining “rightful” spoils.
    So I guess I still don’t think “culture” is destiny and that any country is doomed by its “culture” as much as it might be temporarily unhappy that certain kinds of uncertainties or discomforts haven’t been dealt with.
    Haiti, then, is a bad example because it’s long been an exploited mess and the earthquake made it all that much worse. Where do you turn for expertise? And note that Baby Doc isn’t ruling, though there does seem to be some nostalgia for him, as I’ve read.
    Russia’s turning to strongarm types may be less what the people want and more what certain kinds of institutional pressures generate.
    Likely, it’s all pretty historically specific and not entirely a thing to generalize over.

    Reply

  14. nina says:

    Interesting that the Wurmser thread has been purged of all posts critical of Wurmser, even a post that simply outlined his spouse’s political alliances, associations and historical efforts on behalf of Israel. Despite the reasoning given for the recent shutdown and removal of certain posts, the removal of these posts on the Wurmser thread do not fit the reasons given for censor.
    This is not moderation, it is censorship.

    Reply

  15. WigWag says:

    “History Says Mubarak Clan Likely to Return” (Don Bacon quoting Steve Clemons paraphrasing Jeffrey Winters)
    I don’t know if Gamal Mubarak will ever run Egypt but the precedents Winters sites are accurate. The Suharto family and Marcos Family have emerged once again as power players in their respective countries. But Winters didn’t need to stop there, Baby Doc Duvalier is now back in Haiti and while the Haitian Government would like to put him on trial, he has tens of thousands of Haitian supporters who have vowed to fight if the Government tries to do anything to Duvalier. Why did Baby Doc return to Haiti from exile in France? Because he knows that at least a substantial minority of Haitians would like to see his family restored to power. Some Haitians look back on the days when the Duvaliers ruled with nostalgia and think that despite the bad behavior of the Tonton Macoute things were better than they are now. Many younger Haitians who don’t remember the “bad old days” view Baby Doc as a rock star.
    Where Winters gets it wrong is his assumption that this is somehow related to affection for or a nostalgic yearning for certain families; it goes much deeper than that.
    Stalin has been dead and buried for almost 60 years. He is responsible for the deaths of millions of Russians and tens of millions of Europeans. Yet has image has undergone a revival in Russia and if press reports are to be believed, Stalin’s legacy is revered by millions. Gorbachev may have led to Yeltsen who may have led to Putin and Medvedev but culturally not that much has changed in Russia; Russians still yearn for their Georgian strongman their democratic revolution couldn

    Reply

  16. questions says:

    Ok, so if I’m reading this graph correctly, a lot of Republicans don’t mind cutting aid to the world’s needy people, half the Republicans wouldn’t mind cutting unemployment aid, and beyond that, no one wants to cut a damned thing out of the budget!
    We love us some spending, we hate cutting budgets, we hate taxes, we “hate” the deficit. And we are dumb enough to think that one of the biggest chunks of the federal budget is foreign aid. And we pretty much hate helping the undeserving lazy low life unemployed people among us. We are such funny creatures, so ill-informed, so ready with the nose-cutting, face-spiting, neighbor-distrusting misinformed irritation….
    The question will be, how do we vote regardless of how we answer surveys like this.
    http://www.themonkeycage.org/2011/02/party_identification_and_attit.html

    Reply

  17. DonS says:

    Stevesorry for the reposts; I wasn’t used to the new sequence/buffer. Anyway, I have no problem with delays, and only reposted because of the unusual sequence. It ordinarily takes me two times to get past the captcha, which I’m doing now. Reading captcha can be a problem for all of us at sometime; but what’s the worse that can happen; you get rejected and try again. No biggie.
    Sorry you’ve got to do the den mother thing, but I completely understand.
    Best, Don

    Reply

  18. Don Bacon says:

    “History Says Mubarak Clan Likely to Return”
    Professor Winters’ claim — “shocking as it might be to imagine today, there is a better than 50-50 chance that the world will be reading the headline ‘President Gamal Mubarak’ within a decade” is preposterous, and not based on any historical evidence in Philippines and Indonesia as he claims.
    In Philippines, a full twenty-five (25) years after Ferdinand Marcos was deposed the Marcos family remains somewhat popular in his home province, tiny Ilocos Norte. So now his widow has been elected to represent Ilocos Norte in the 283-member Philippine House. Also her daughter Imee was elected governor of Ilocos Norte province and her son Ferdinand Jr. won a Senate seat.
    According to Winters these small achievements 25 years on “marked the full restoration of the Marcos family.” You be the judge.
    In Indonesia, according to the cIA Factbook, “Free and fair legislative elections took place in 1999 after decades of repressive rule. Indonesia is now the world’s third most populous democracy, the world’s largest archipelagic state, and home to the world’s largest Muslim population.” There has been no “full restoration” here, either.
    Return of Husseins to Iraq? Pahlevis to Iran? Will the Queen of England again rule the USA?
    So much for President Gamal Mubarak’s better than 50-50 chance.”

    Reply

  19. DonS says:

    Steve, don’t know which Don you were referring to (probably me since I got a new look, and refiled a couple of times; itusually requires two attempts so that doesn’t surprise me). Anyway, I have no problem with short delays, and reposted because of the unusual sequence.
    On captcha, WW you’re not the only one with difficulty reading. Worst that can happen, you get rejected and have to try again.
    Best, Don

    Reply

  20. Steve Clemons says:

    Don — I don’t have time to respond to every comment here, and I’m really sorry that you feel that you are going to have a tough time because of delayed comments. The problem before however was more serious — incredible maligning of peoples’ character and defamation. I can’t have that. End of subject. There will be delays because I am being ‘forced’ to play den mother because of some people who can’t play nice and could not control themselves. It irritates me — but there is no choice. Deal with it.
    I will not debate or set terms on what I consider to be slander. If I see something that I feel is dishonest, slander, or a personal attack that is unwarranted, it will not appear. There are no appeals. So folks need to up their game and get in constructive mode. If they can’t do it, then they can’t post.
    All best — and hope this settles these questions. I have other work to do now — and the last thing I want right now is any more hassles with comments.
    Please just file your comment once. It goes into a buffer for approval.
    thanks, steve

    Reply

  21. questions says:

    And more off topic, but really on point….
    Ezra Klein on meta policy in the admin — using RttT money that only went to 12 states in the end but got 40 states to put into place higher standards. This part I don’t mind very much, in fact, if it was the only purpose of RttT, I would think it’s pretty smart, actually. But then there’s all the nonsense about teacher evaluation which has shown itself to be statistical nonsense. And the charter school number de-capping is totally ridiculous. Read anything about “counseling out” or about how some 17% or so of charter schools (I think that’s the number) outperform average public schools, but a large number of charters underperform public schools, note that the student populations are totally different in charter and neighborhood schools, note the absence of the poorest of the poor (free lunch, not reduced price) in charter schools, the parental involvement…and you see quickly that the admin preference for charters is based on precisely the fluff that they think they are doing away with.
    Here’s one link on charters vs. public schools, but there is a fair amount of decent research out there at this point:
    http://www.irpumn.org/website/projects/index.php?strWebAction=project_detail&intProjectID=57
    It’s not just that much policy is based on hunches, connections, and a total lack of evidence (indeed this is problematic, and a source of our very own corruption), but even when we try for “evidence based” practices, some huge percentage of our “evidence” is crap.
    Apply evidence based policies to goals whose success can’t really be parsed, whose success is life long, or fairly long term, or whose success is preventive rather than curative and suddenly the “evidence” is far harder to muster.
    Further, with something like “education” we don’t even know what we’re measuring — it’s not test scores we want, it’s smart, flexible young adults whose knowledge base is broad and whose ability to pick up more stuff is highly developed. Testing doesn’t really get to the heart of this.
    So, as technocratically cool as “evidence based policy” is, I kinda call bullshit on much of it.
    Here’s Ezra:
    http://voices.washingtonpost.com/ezra-klein/2011/02/towards_better_policymaking_dr.html?hpid=topnews
    I would hope that the technocratic evidence-based administration learns what can and cannot be measured, what goals make sense and don’t, what practices fit within a democracy (corporatized wars, corporatized education, corporatized citizenship — these don’t fit), and what practices don’t fit in.
    And I hope they apply this somewhat nuanced reading of policy formation and policy goals to a broad range of issues, domestic and international, peaceable and warlike.

    Reply

  22. DonS says:

    Agree with Don B on vetted comments; pretty hard to have a conversation — when I choose to — with any significant delay factor.
    I wonder about the verbal assaults on others, i.e., someone other than the host or another commenter. For instance is it within bounds to attempt to slander, say, a Steve Walt (decent though the assaulter may be in many respects), or a John Bolton, and not expect to have an escalated flame war? I’ve called these drive-by slanderings, or slander by proxy — with the real or auxiliary target being the host. Of course I suppose moderation is the key there too?
    And one more thing, especially on the I/P front, many of us are no doubt tired of the ubiquitous “anti-Semite” being used as an characterization, though at best it is a surmise, or weak inference. (although I’ve found the anti-American slur even more offensive). There is a whole dynamic around the influence of radical zionist politics that counts on this inference, but becomes outraged at being confronted with a far more objectively supported inference that Israeli interests are promoted to the detriment of American interests, consistently. In my view,there’s not an equivalence here. End of comment.

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  23. rc says:

    “Sometimes before typing it in I actually have to call friends or family to read me the captcha; they are very nice about it, but my guess is that they find my request annoying.”
    I simply hit the page re-load function on the browser and it resets the captcha — usually only 1 or 2 times is required before a set is displayed that I can read. Data is not lost (in my experience anyway)

    Reply

  24. questions says:

    Well, I wasn’t very productive in the time that the comments were off. Maybe we could go 72 hours and I could get a backlog of stuff done??!!
    Seriously, though, thanks for figuring out a way through the very intense passions we all feel about very significant issues in the world. And especial thanks for allowing the digressions, as I am one of the most digressive presences around!
    And in that spirit, Rortybomb has a couple of really important pieces up:
    http://rortybomb.wordpress.com/2011/02/14/finally-empirical-evidence-about-how-the-foreclosure-crisis-is-impacting-the-recovery/
    and
    http://rortybomb.wordpress.com/2011/02/14/structural-unemployment-myths-construction-moving-mancessions/
    The URLs give a heads up.
    There are some pieces floating around on the Egyptification of the US — something to watch for.
    And Iran’s gov’t wants the death penalty for the opposition. Iran is not Egypt. And who knows if they can hold up for 18 or more days of real gov’t crackdown. The US can’t really put much in the way of private pressure on Ahmadinejad, so we’re left with public pronouncements of “Bad government, good protesters” which does nothing.
    I wonder if the religious leaders have much political control over Ahmadinejad and his goon squads at this point. And I wonder how long the regime and the people can afford this stand off. It could put something of a dent in the contagion effect if some gov’t manage to avoid collapsing under citizen pressure.
    ****
    On a techno note, nakedcapitalism has a link up to a science piece on accelerometers made out of paper. Accelerometers are the gizmos that let Wii controls “know” where they are in space, that tell your laptop hard drive it’s falling into the rabbit hole and it ought to protect the data on it. With super cheap (4 cents a piece) paper accelerometers, apparently surgeons will have a literal better feel for laparascopic topography.
    Technology is amazing. Think of the personalized tooth brushes each of whose bristles has an accelerometer so that you can have a custom brushing! Of course, there are some really significant consequences of this technology coming, too.

    Reply

  25. Steve Clemons says:

    Regrettably, I don’t think I can remove the captcha. The issue is that before I had captcha up, I was getting about 8-10,000 spam hits a day, mostly porn. It would become difficult to review the good posts from those I wanted to screen out.
    I will give this some consideration though down the road and see what the other options may be. This blog is a hobby for me – something on the side – and thus I need to keep the time demands of comments minimal and manageable.
    best, steve

    Reply

  26. Carmen says:

    WigWag’s comment on the captcha is sound. I’ve seen other sites where there’s an option for people with poor eyesight to hit a button and have the computer “read” the captcha to them. Can this be implemented at the Washington Note?

    Reply

  27. Don Bacon says:

    One last lament for the loss of a TWN art form, the world-class verbal assaults that had the capability to absolutely destroy most people. Yet many assaultees inexplicably (I couldn’t do it) came back for more. Some day, some where, these gems of destruction will be collected and appreciated for their power and wit, setting a dubious standard for offensive bloggery.
    That lament is over. Let’s move on, taking TWN to a higher level with the philosophy that it’s open season on arguments but not on their unfortunately misguided proponents. (Or comments might even have merit.) Steve Clemons deserves no less, and I don’t say that only because of his generous stipend.
    P.S. Vetted comments are a rotten idea — spontaneity is lost. Juan Cole is an example. Comments are held for hours, an eternity in the blogosphere.

    Reply

  28. YY says:

    Good to see comments back.
    OT but what are your thoughts on this?
    Argentina accuses US of trying to smuggle weapons into country
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/feb/15/argentina-us-weapons-country
    Are we talking loose cannons?

    Reply

  29. WigWag says:

    I think having comments moderated is a great idea. Instead of having the comments appear instantly why not have them vetted first and then let them appear after the vetting process is over? Many blogs do it this way and the short wait to see your comment is more than made up for by the civil nature of the discussion that this process insures. I comment frequently on Walter Russell Mead’s blog (which is brilliant by the way) and that’s how he handles it. It works great.
    Although you may not have a staff to help you moderate the blog, surely there’s an intern at the New America Foundation or a college student studying international relations who could be tapped for the job. While some judgement is required, it’s not hard to spot the comments that are more vitriol than fact (including mine) as opposed to more fact than vitriol. A college student can probably be trained to take care of this within a day or so.
    People become passionate when the subject of discussion is controversial; that’s to be expected. But moderating the comments should tone down some of the sharper comments which would be to everyone’s advantage.
    While I frequently disagree with you, Steve, you are to be complimented for the open and warm environment that you provide to everyone who comments here, especially the people like me who frequently think you’re wrong.
    So moderate away; it’s a great innovation!
    But I do have one question; if you are going to be moderating comments do you still need the captcha? It’s not as bad as it used to be but it is still a bit of a pain in the neck, especially for people like me who don’t have good eye sight. Those who can see well may not believe it, but the letters and numbers in the captcha are frequently hard to make out. Sometimes before typing it in I actually have to call friends or family to read me the captcha; they are very nice about it, but my guess is that they find my request annoying. Who could blame them?
    Anyway, it’s just a thought.

    Reply

  30. MarkL says:

    Steve,
    Thanks for the response.
    Your answer told me what I suspected, but I wasn’t sure.
    Good luck with the new policy.
    Even with all the discord, this is one of only 3 or 4 blogs where I even read the comments, so I’m glad they are back.
    There are some fascinating viewpoints, and really knowledgable commenters.

    Reply

  31. Steve Clemons says:

    Mark – the problem is solved by having moderation. I don’t care if something is off topic as there may be times when something really interesting is occurring or that someone has thought of that deserves space.
    I am not blogging all of the time and have a day job — and I’ve never really liked the “open thread” idea to allow folks to go where they will. Most here don’t take advantage of that.
    So, I will not over prescribe what will happen now in comments beyond what I have said. Thanks for your suggestion though.
    Onward and upward.

    Reply

  32. MarkL says:

    Steve,
    What about requiring comments to be on topic?
    Maybe you think the digressions are valuable, at times, but in my opinion, having almost every single thread devolve into a discussion of the finer points of 3000 years of Jewish history is worthless—especially since facts are not actually discussed.
    …and then a few years ago, almost every thread was about 9/11 and Building 7, with the same crackpot “theories” being advanced, again and again.
    If comments had to be on topic, that would solve 90% of the problem, in my opinion.

    Reply

  33. DCPundit says:

    Steve,
    I think that this was a very wise decision by you and your team. I look forward to participating again in the comments here in a much less ugly environment.
    Bravo!

    Reply

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